Data Book: Return of the Luddite

HCA News Staff
MAY 18, 2018


It has become an insult for technophobes: Luddite. But what does the word mean? The Luddites, it turns out, were artisans who bashed machines and caused chaos across the British countryside in the early 1800s. Not exactly the right smear for someone who refuses to join Facebook, right?

Well, wait a second there. In the wake of major data breaches, including the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, we might be seeing a return of the Luddite, without the violence. Despite the misconception that the Luddites were purely against technology of their time, they actually opposed how people used those cutting-edge machines and the resultant hardships faced by artisans. So, in this sense, today’s anti-big-data crusaders have something in common with the Luddites.

>> LISTEN: Overcoming the Cultural Resistance to Health Tech

A key difference, however, is that today’s activists aren’t destroying or trying to wipe out new tech, at least not yet. To examine why that would be a bad move, Data Book welcomes John Nosta, founder of NostaLab and a member of Google’s health advisory board. (If you’re in health tech, you probably know Nosta via Twitter.) He recently wrote about why society must strive to avoid vilifying big data and related tech despite front-page breaches.

But first, Data Book dives deep into the story of the real-world Luddites. Who were they and what did they want? What made them so angry, so violent? And what can the world—and, specifically, healthcare—learn from the Luddites and the manufacturers they targeted? It’s all here, from the dawn of the movement to its bloody conclusion.

In the end, the responsibility of implementing and defending life-saving technologies rooted in data and analytics falls on healthcare. This episode lays out a path, drawn in good faith, toward that goal. But it’s up to healthcare executives, clinicians, and patients to follow the route.

Like what you hear on Data Book? Then please subscribe, rate, and review on iTunesGoogle PlaySpotify, and all of your favorite podcasting apps. Also, don’t be shy about telling a friend. We publish new episodes on the best stories and insights in big data, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity every Friday morning.

Also, here’s a call to action for all the appheads out there: Let us know which healthcare apps you love via TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn. If you give us a good one, we’ll write about it in the August edition of the magazine.

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